Notes from the Island Fishmonger

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Loving this spiny lobster time of year

By Scott Dolan

August, September and October bring us Florida spiny lobster season.

Not to be confused with American lobsters that are available all year round, mostly out of the cold waters of Maine, spiny lobsters are a Florida delicacy that is only available in the summer months and are harvested from Florida and the Caribbean waters. They are primarily marketed as lobster tails or whole lobsters without the claws.

The Florida lobster’s diet consists of clams, snails, seaweed and small organisms that creates a delicious white-meat tail that has a rich, course texture and a sweet distinctive flavor.

Spiny lobsters have numerous spines on their bodies, two large hooked horns over the eyes, a pair of long jointed antennas, five pairs of walking legs, and a large edible tail, but no claws.

In September, many recreational divers head to the Florida Keys for their lobster fix. They fill their bags with the day’s limit catch and enjoy a vacation feast at their resort or venture out to one of the many local fish shacks for a lobster dinner. Most of the lobster we eat in Sarasota is commercially harvested off the southern tip of Florida and is caught live using special traps set at depths of 6 to 300 feet. The retail lobsters are sold at local fish markets such as Big Water Fish Market on Siesta Key.

In the fall — generally in September coinciding with deteriorating weather conditions — Florida lobsters migrate from the shallows to deeper water in long continuous lines, antennae to tail. This is known as “the lobster march.” I have my own version of the lobster march when I march myself to Marathon every September to partake in a vacation lobster feast.

If you can’t make it to the Keys, no worries – come see us at the Big Water Fish Market for stuffed spiny lobster specials and lobster rolls every Thursday.

By the way, the business will be closed Sept. 21 to Sept. 30. Can you guess where we’re going?

Lobster rolls reign supreme on Thursdays at Big Water Fish Market. (submitted image)
Scott Dolan
Author: Scott Dolan

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